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Report: LAPD’s Use-Of-Force Policy in Need of Revamping

Courtesy Image
One recommendation suggested that the LAPD’s use-of-force policy be revised “to emphasize that deadly force shall only be exercised when reasonable alternatives have been exhausted or appear impracticable. Courtesy image.

Two members of the Los Angeles Police Commission called for a revamping of the LAPD’s use-of-force policy to include provisions saying officers need to make every available effort to de-escalate confrontations before resorting to force, according to a report.

The report, released Friday, by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Inspector General, Alexander Bustamante, gave a 10-year history of the LAPD’s use-of-force policy, including amendments made during that period and details on how use-of-force cases are investigated and adjudicated by the department.

Included in the report were 12 recommendations proposed by Police Commission President Matthew Johnson and Commissioner Robert Saltzman aimed at emphasizing the need for officers to do what they can to de-escalate potentially violent confrontations, with those attempts being considered when the commission reviews whether a use of force was justified.

One recommendation suggested that the LAPD’s use-of-force policy be revised “to emphasize that deadly force shall only be exercised when reasonable alternatives have been exhausted or appear impracticable. The revision in policy will also establish the expectation that officers redeploy to a position of tactical advantage when faced with a threat, whenever such redeployment can be reasonably accomplished in a manner consistent with officer and public safety.”

The recommendations also called on the department “to ensure that all investigations and evaluations of use-of-force incidents include written consideration of whether de-escalation was feasible and, for deadly force incidents, whether reasonable alternatives had been exhausted or appeared impracticable before the use of such force.”

Also included were recommendations calling for de-escalation to be included in all use-of-force training and for the department to survey law enforcement agencies nationwide on their practices and training in regard to de- escalating use-of-force situations.

The report was expected to be reviewed by the full Police Commission on Tuesday. Two years ago, the commission amended the department’s use-of-force policy to allow for a review of an officer’s “tactical conduct and decisions leading up to the use of deadly force” in determining whether such force was justified.

Lou Turriaga, director of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said he had concerns about the recommendations, which he said could put officers’ lives at risk.

“Clearly this is not a collaborative process by the Police Commission,” he said. “We are very concerned that the recommendations as written may jeopardize officer and community safety. We’re afraid that this policy does not take into account the split-second, life-and-death decisions police officers must make in the field.”

The recommendations came one week after an internal LAPD report was released, finding that LAPD officers used force nearly 2,000 times last year, including 21 cases in which people were fatally shot. More than one-third of the 38 people who were shot by police were mentally ill.

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